Ever since Intel abandoned its plans to develop a 5G modem and sold the remnants of the team to Apple in 2019, Apple has been working on its own modem in an effort to ditch Qualcomm’s hold over the cellular capabilities of its products. The project has been saddled with delays and now a new rumor claims Apple may have scrapped the whole thing.
According to yeux1122 on Naver (translation), Apple is “reorganizing its continued investment in its own 5G modem development department and personnel” and ending its plans to bring a 5G model in-house. Revegnus on X (formerly Twitter), also says that Apple has begun “streamlining investments in its 5G modem development division,” but the report comes from the same source.
If true, the report represents an ignominious end to a project that has been beset with delays and roadblocks. As recently as last week, it was reported that Apple’s efforts to deliver a 5G modem wouldn’t be ready until at least 2026. That’s following several reported delays to the project, which had an initial target of 2023. Additionally, Qualcomm said in September that it will continue to supply Snapdragon 5G modems for iPhones through at least 2026.
Apple had a partnership with Intel for a smartphone modem, but that project was dissolved in 2019. After Apple purchased the “majority” of Intel’s modem business for $1 billion, it was believed that Apple would deliver its own 5G modem by this year beginning with the iPhone SE 4.
Qualcomm currently supplies all of the 5G modems for Android phones and Apple products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Moving the modem in-house would save costs and allow Apple to better control efficiency and heat dissipation.